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Friday, March 31, 2023

It's safe to say the UF women's tennis team hasn't really been tested.

The Gators (3-0) have yet to lose a singles or doubles match in any of their first three dual matches and have dropped just two sets in singles play.

First-year sophomore Marrit Boonstra hasn't even lost a game in the first three matches of her career.

However, all of UF's victories have come against teams outside the top 75 of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings.

The competition level will increase dramatically for the Gators starting Tuesday.

No. 5 UF will take on No. 30 South Florida in what will be the last of a four-match opening homestand before traveling to No. 15 Duke on Friday and No. 14 North Carolina on Sunday.

"For the first time here in this young season, we're going to really find out how good we are," UF coach Roland Thornqvist said. "I think we know that we have a lot of talent. We just need to find out how tough we are and where we are at this moment."

To continue their high level of play, the Gators must first overcome a USF team they faced in the second round of the NCAA tournament last year. UF won the match 4-1 in Gainesville.

"Some kids that haven't been challenged are going to be challenged [today], and the key is for us to be able to handle that and play well in close sets," Thornqvist said. "I can certainly see a couple split sets here and there and where we got to really make sure that we play well and play disciplined tennis at the end of the sets."

The match against the Bulls was rescheduled from Jan. 30 after illnesses on the USF team prevented them from playing.

The Bulls' only ranked player, No. 71 Natalia Guevara, is a freshman. She will likely face UF freshman Julia Cohen on the No. 1 singles court.

Thornqvist said Cohen's first true collegiate test will be "very fun and interesting to see."

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The Gators are 47-1 all time against their in-state opponents and will try to capture their 60th consecutive regular-season home win on Tuesday.

Thornqvist said his players enjoy playing good teams to see where they stand among the nation's best. He added that playing a tough nonconference schedule will only help UF in conference play.

"Now … we're going to really be measured," he said. "That's why you play the games. You want to see how good you can be, and I think we can learn a lot from our players just in the next week."

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